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Palin Was Right About Hunting, After All

From a shameless Associated Press:

Alaska: Wolf, bear hunts increasing moose, caribou


ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An Alaska wildlife management program in which wolves are shot from low-flying airplanes and black bears are baited and snared is helping to increase the numbers of moose and caribou, state wildlife officials say.

The program has long been the target of wildlife conservation groups who view it as state-sponsored slaughter. Last fall, one of those groups launched an ad criticizing then-Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, for expanding the program.

State officials contend the program is aimed at helping rural Alaskans, who rely on hunting to survive and had complained there wasn’t enough game to hunt and eat.

The program began under Palin’s predecessor, Gov. Frank Murkowski. Private citizens are permitted to shoot wolves from the air or conduct land-and-shoot hunting of wolves in six rural areas of the state

The agency recently released its 2008-2009 predation management summary that indicates that moose and caribou numbers in six predator control areas have increased. The agency points to two areas in particular as examples of where the program is showing strong results: the Nelchina Basin area and the southern Alaska Peninsula.

The program is getting substantive results in the McGrath area, where it began in December 2003. Last winter and spring, 28 wolves were killed in the McGrath area. Nineteen were taken under the program and nine were hunted and trapped.

The agency said the moose population there has grown from 2,774 in 2004 to an estimated 5,500 moose now. The goal is to reach 6,000 to 8,000 moose.

"Moose numbers have come up substantially," Bartley said.

In the Nelchina Basin area — one of the more contentious predator control areas because it is accessible to urban hunters from the Anchorage area — 119 wolves were killed. Fifty-five of those were taken under the control program and the other 64 were hunted or trapped.

That, the state said, helped the moose population increase 27 percent. The harvest, meanwhile, went up 18 percent.

The situation is so improved in the Nelchina Basin that for the first time in more than a decade nonresident hunters will be allowed to hunt bull moose…

Weirdly enough, we seem to recall Governor Palin catching all kinds of flak not just from her political opponents, but also from our one party media about the program.

We seem to recall that our experts in the media mocked the notion that it would increase the numbers of moose and caribou, such as this typical salvo from the archives of Salon:

Her deadly wolf program

With a disdain for science that alarms wildlife experts, Sarah Palin continues to promote Alaska’s policy to gun down wolves from planes.

By Mark Benjamin

Sept. 8, 2008 | Wildlife activists thought they had seen the worst in 2003 when Frank Murkowski, then the Republican governor of Alaska, signed a bill ramping up state programs to gun down wild wolves from airplanes, inviting average citizens to participate. Wolves, Murkowski believed, were clearly better than humans at killing elk and moose, and humans needed to even the playing field.

But that was before Sarah Palin took Murkowski’s job at the end of 2006. She went one step, or paw, further. Palin didn’t think Alaskans should be allowed to chase wolves from aircraft and shoot them — they should be encouraged to do so. Palin’s administration put a bounty on wolves’ heads, or to be more precise, on their mitts.

In early 2007, Palin’s administration approved an initiative to pay a $150 bounty to hunters who killed a wolf from an airplane in certain areas, hacked off the left foreleg, and brought in the appendage. Ruling that the Palin administration didn’t have the authority to offer payments, a state judge quickly put a halt to them but not to the shooting of wolves from aircraft…

"Palin acts like she has never met an animal she didn’t want shot," says Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, based in Connecticut.

The controversy over Palin’s promotion of predator control goes beyond animal rights activists recoiling at the thought of picking off wolves from airplanes. A raft of scientists has argued that Palin has provided little evidence that the current program of systematically killing wolves, estimated at a population of 7,000 to 11,000, will result in more moose for hunters. State estimates of moose populations have come under scrutiny. Some wildlife biologists say predator control advocates don’t even understand what wolves eat.

State officials stand by their scientific findings on predator control. "Several times over the past several years, our science has been challenged in court," says Bruce Bartley, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "In every instance it has prevailed."

Yet it is not hard to find Alaskans who say Palin’s enthusiasm for predator control fits a broader narrative of how she edits science to suit her personal views. She endorses the teaching of creationism in public schools and has questioned whether humans are responsible for global warming.

In 2007, she approved $400,000 to educate the public about the ecological success of shooting wolves and bears from the air. Some of the money went to create a pamphlet distributed in local newspapers, three weeks before the public was to vote on an initiative that would have curtailed aerial killing of wolves by private citizens. "The timing of the state’s propaganda on wolf control was terrible," wrote the Anchorage Daily News on its editorial page.

"Across the board, Sarah Palin puts on a masquerade, claiming she is using sound management and science," says Nick Jans, an Alaskan writer who co-sponsored the initiative. "In reality she uses ideology and ignores science when it is in her way." The initiative was defeated last month.

Gordon Haber is a wildlife scientist who has studied wolves in Alaska for 43 years. "On wildlife-related issues, whether it is polar bears or predator controls, she has shown no inclination to be objective," he says of Palin. "I cannot find credible scientific data to support their arguments," he adds about the state’s rationale for gunning down wolves. "In most cases, there is evidence to the contrary."

Last year, 172 scientists signed a letter to Palin, expressing concern about the lack of science behind the state’s wolf-killing operation. According to the scientists, state officials set population objectives for moose and caribou based on "unattainable, unsustainable historically high populations." As a result, the "inadequately designed predator control programs" threatened the long-term health of both the ungulate and wolf populations. The scientists concluded with a plea to Palin to consider the conservation of wolves and bears "on an equal basis with the goal of producing more ungulates for hunters."

Apparently Palin wasn’t fazed. Earlier this year she introduced state legislation that would further divorce the predator-control program from science. The legislation would transfer authority over the program from the state Department of Fish and Game to Alaska’s Board of Game, whose members are appointed by, well, Palin. Even some hunters were astounded by her power play.

The legislation would give Palin’s board "more leeway without any scientific input to do whatever the hell they basically wanted," Mark Richards, co-chair of Alaska Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, wrote in an e-mail. The legislation is currently stalled in the Alaska state Senate.

Predator control in Alaska dates back to the 1920s and 1930s. Even then, wildlife biologists insisted that wolves were important to the area’s natural ecology and not responsible for inordinate deaths of sheep, caribou or moose. Yet the scientists fought a losing battle against ranchers, hunters and government officials, who backed the extermination of tens of thousands of wolves. Aerial hunting began in earnest in the 1940s and continued through the 1960s after Alaska had earned statehood…

Haber says the state’s numbers are wildly inflated. His decades of wolf research have shown that wolves are, in fact, mostly scavengers. "Sixty to 70 percent of the moose they eat are scavenged, not killed," he says. He adds that the state’s wolf population estimates, based on secondhand observations and extrapolations, are also high

Last year, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., introduced legislation designed to curtail predator-control programs, except as a last resort. "It’s time to ground Alaska’s illegal and inhumane air assault on wolves," Miller said. Palin quickly fired off a curt letter in response, applauding the state’s programs as "widely recognized for their excellence and effectiveness." She pointed out that her state has "managed its wildlife so that we still maintain abundant populations of all of our indigenous predators almost fifty years after statehood."

Says Jans, co-sponsor of the losing initiative to outlaw aerial wolf hunting: "This is a reflection of a somebody who doesn’t have any use for science."

But don’t expect the AP or any of the rest of them to be publishing a correction and apology any time soon.

After all, they were just doing their jobs.

And they will just say that once again the claim about increasing moose and caribou is from Alaska’s state officials, who even though Mrs. Palin has resigned, are still under the thrall of a conservative governor.

And after all, we know that everybody lies except for liberals and their media.

(Thanks to Sen for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, September 14th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

8 Responses to “Palin Was Right About Hunting, After All”

  1. dobieman says:

    Actually, Palin got it about as wrong as she could which is in keeping with her usual lack of knowledge.
    First, I’ve lived in the Interior of Alaska for over 40 years. That’s longer than Sarah Palin has been in Alaska. I’ve hunted many times including the area this article deals with, the Nelchina Basin. I have had encounters with moose, bears (both grizzly and black) as well as wolves, Dall sheep, caribou, etc. So I have more than a nodding acquaintance with the issue.
    Palin claims this is an effort to help the subsistence hunter, the Natives, the bush dweller. Fact of the matter is, the Nelchina Basin is most heavily used by the urban hunters from Anchorage and Fairbanks. It is on the road system and is not a remote area by any means. So the idea she is striking a blow for the subsistence hunter is patently false. Indeed, it even notes in the article that the area is going to be open to non-resident hunters which is the last thing you would do if you were trying to help the resident hunters. Alaskan Natives (who, for the most part, have opposed Sarah Palin on many issues) cannot compete with someone spending $15k to come hunt moose. They do not have the same access to hunting guides with their planes, ATV’s, and riverboats. Non-resident hunting is actually competition with local residents for a limited resource. This “opening” demonstrates where the real goal lies and that is not to help the bush resident but to help the professional hunting faction which contributed heavily to Palin’s campaign.
    Another consideration in decimating the natural predator population is what it does to the genetic make-up of the ungulate population. In short, it declines in quality. Wolves and bears are least apt to attack healthy, prime moose. Moose are very dangerous animals when they are attacked and can inflict considerable injury and death with all four feet rather quickly. Predators will take out the old ones, the injured ones, the sick ones before they go after the healthy adults. The result is a natural selection for the best of the population to continue, to breed, to produce the healthiest young with the best chance of survival. Human hunters, on the other hand, and especially trophy hunters (as non-residents are) remove the best from the breeding population. Someone is not going to pay several thousand dollars to take home a sickly, undersized moose. The result is predictable: the overall genetic quality of the population declines. This decline has been documented in the antler records over the years kept by Ak. Dept. of Fish and Game which shows a steady reduction in the average size.
    So what has Sarah Palin really accomplished? By a brutal and cowardly means (aerial hunting) which many experienced wildlife professionals have spoken out against, she has artificially boosted the numbers of moose and caribou then made available the process whereby the best of them will be killed for trophies.
    Given her record for turning tail and quitting when the going gets tough, a reason many Alaskans rightfully now despise her, it is not surprising that she has left us with a mess that might not be apparent in its damage at present but eventually will make itself known as the general health of the animals decreases.
    BTW, across the Tanana River from Fairbanks the wolf and bear populations were similarly hammered by aerial hunting some years ago under the previous governor, Frank Murkowski. The result has been such an overpopulation that for the past three years the area known as 20b has been open to hunting moose cows and calves. Sometimes “more” is not better.

    • proreason says:

      and her kids are real tarts, aren’t they?

      Did you see where she thinks she can see Russia from her front porch?

      I think she is probably covering up for her 13 year old who really had that last baby.

      And did you see the clothing bill during the campaign!!

      Thanks for the additional information.

    • Liberals Make Great Speedbumps says:

      “So what has Sarah Palin really accomplished? By a brutal and cowardly means (aerial hunting) which many experienced wildlife professionals have spoken out against, she has artificially boosted the numbers of moose and caribou then made available the process whereby the best of them will be killed for trophies.”

      Cowardly? Let me guess, you hunt wolves the way John Kerry hunts deer, crawling along the ground with your K-Bar (that’s the really pointy kind of knife that Marines use) clenched tightly between your teeth?

      Sounds to me that the program accomplished what it was intended to accomplish, more moose. Where’s the problem Rambo?

  2. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Quite the run-on sentence there Dobie Gillis. Why don’t you go roll another fat one and come back later when you can think more clearly.

    By virtue of the government ever getting involved in natural selection either directly or indirectly, the balance was messed up.

    The question is, what to do about it, if anything.

    I suppose though, you’re one who would prefer a hungry bear in your kitchen going through your cabinets or taking off your kid’s arm as opposed to “harming their natural existence”. But then, your very existence in Alaska’s frontier is anathema to the whole picture, isn’t it?

    Your “argument” falls flat. Now go have some sprouts and some whole grain rocks or whatever…take some whale pictures and play some “sounds of the forests” Tapes or CD’s or whatever you do. Thanks for playing.

  3. MinnesotaRush says:

    Missed this little bit of info, dobie ..

    “The situation is so improved in the Nelchina Basin that for the first time in more than a decade nonresident hunters will be allowed to hunt bull moose.

    Bartley said the 50-permit, nonresident hunt should not interfere with the supply of moose for Alaskans because it is being allowed in more remote areas only. Nonresident hunters have been “frozen out” of hunting in that area of the state for years, Bartley said, and there is a benefit to the state to have them in it.”

  4. canary says:

    dobieman/ …can not compete with someone spending $15k to come hunt moose…”
    Don’t think the natives in Alaska have to pay 15 grand to come and hunt.

    • canary says:

      I think the natives fish mostly. It was Tina Fey that portrayed Sara Palin, and misquoted Palin saying she could see Russia from her window or poorch. Many can see Russia from Alaska. I thought her duaghter was 17 when she had her baby. I do not know of her popularity with the Alaska natives.

  5. Reality Bytes says:

    “Can I Get Me A Huntin’ License Here?” – Senator & Former (thank God) Presidential Candidate John F. Kerry 2004

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